HTC brings pen input back to the world of tablets
Maybe it's because deep down we are nostalgic for resistive touchscreens of old, but we have to admit we're seriously geeking out over HTC Scribe, the technology that allows you to use an honest-to-god writing implement with the HTC View 4G - see our hands-on here.
If you're not familiar, here's how it works: HTC is selling a capacitive stylus that talks to the View 4G over Bluetooth and lets you take notes directly on the screen. On the View itself, they've replaced the standard search button with a context-aware Stylus button. When you're in a context where you can't write on the screen, the button is red and serves as a shortcut to stylus-aware apps. When you can use the stylus, it turns green and it's writing time, baby.
More impressions and photos and video after the break!
Right now, HTC has a small set of apps that work with Scribe: A sketch/notes app, a note-taking app that syncs with Evernote, and an app for letting you take notes on screenshots.
When you tap on the stylus button, you get an array of pen size and color options. You can then just write or draw directly on the screen with your selected options. There's no handwriting recognition, but it is nice to finally be able to take stylus to screen for some proper note-taking. You can also hit record to record audio in two of the apps. You can then play back the audio - in one app it simply jumps to the note as you play back and in another it actually re-draws your work in time with the audio. Unfortunately, you can't tap on your note and jump to the relevant piece of audio, a feature we dearly love about the LiveScribe system.
The Stylus itself is well-weighted and comfortable to hold. It's pressure sensitive and sports two context-variable buttons that alternately erase, highlight, and select text. It's all powered by one AAAA (that's quadruple A) battery.
You can tap the screen with the stylus in the browser to instantly take a screenshot and open the sketch app, where you can toss notes up and send it along.
Is HTC Scribe the incredible pen-based future we're dreaming of? Not quite - we'll need to spend a lot more time getting a feel for how the pen glides across the screen and the lack of handwriting recognition has us a little bummed. Still, with a little more iteration on the software side (and perhaps some third-party app developer support) we could see ourselves really using Scribe in class and meetings.
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